State of Green Business

Pennsylvania Colleges Sign Environmental Self-Audit Agreement

Pennsylvania Colleges Sign Environmental Self-Audit Agreement

The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania has signed a self-audit/self-disclosure agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and U.S. EPA to encourage voluntary disclosure of violations found through environmental compliance audits conducted by member schools.

“Many of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities are on the forefront of research and development in some of the most pressing environmental issues of the day,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said during the signing ceremony. “It’s only logical that these same institutions take on a leadership role in managing their environmental impacts.”

The goal of performing self-audits is to encourage schools to develop environmental management systems, an approach to managing environmental responsibilities that can help to identify ways to reduce and prevent pollution, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and save money while improving productivity.

“EPA believes it is important to improve environmental compliance at regional colleges and universities. This agreement sets up a system to encourage Pennsylvania academic institutions to perform their own internal audits, assess their environmental compliance and develop effective environmental management systems,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional administrator.

Many companies and organizations are afraid to conduct self-audits for fear any violations they find will come back to haunt them in the form of fines or penalties. Under this agreement, DEP and EPA agree to work with institutions to resolve any problems uncovered by self-audits without taking enforcement action.

“We hope removing the uncertainty surrounding such disclosures will result in more critical self-evaluations on a continuous basis and, ultimately, better environmental compliance,” Secretary McGinty said.

To assist schools in conducting self-audits, DEP’s Office of Energy and Technology Development created the “College and University Environmental Management System and Best Management Practices Manual.”